Local News

MySpace Agrees to New Safety Measures

Posted January 14, 2008

— MySpace has agreed with North Carolina and 44 other states to add extensive measures to combat sexual predators and to prevent others from misusing the social networking Web site.

“We’re joining forces to find the most effective ways to keep young children off these sites and to protect the kids who do use them,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said Monday.

He and 49 other attorneys general announced the agreement Monday in Manhattan after they sought greater controls for such sites as MySpace, Facebook and other social sites to prevent sexual predators from using them to contact children.

“This agreement sets a new standard for social networking sites that have been quick to grow but slow to recognize their responsibility to keep kids safe,” Cooper said.

In the agreement, MySpace acknowledged the important role of age and identity verification technology and agreed to find and develop online identity authentication tools, the attorney general's office said in a news release.

Other specific changes and policies that MySpace agreed to develop include:

  • Allowing parents to submit their children’s e-mail addresses to restrict their children's access to the site.
  • Making the default profile setting “private” for 16- and 17-year-olds.
  • Creating a closed "high school" section for users under 18 years old.
  • Strengthening software to find underage users.
  • Implementing changes to make it harder for adults to contact children.
  • Promising to respond within 72 hours to inappropriate content complaints.
  • Committing more staff and resources to review and classify photographs and discussion groups.

Cooper commended MySpace for its willingness to make its site safer, calling it an industry leader and urging other social networks to adopt the safety principles in the agreement.

“This agreement tackles some of the most risky elements of social networking, but we must do even more to keep kids safe online,” said Cooper. “We’ll keep pushing to find child predators and put them behind bars, and well keep urging parents to pay attention to what their kids are doing on the computer.”

Investigators have increasingly examined MySpace, Facebook.com and similar social networking sites that allow people to post information and images on the Web and invite contacts from others.

Last year, New York investigators said they set up Facebook profiles as 12- to 14-year olds and were quickly contacted by other users looking for sex.

A multistate investigation of the sites — announced last year — was aimed at putting together measures to protect minors and remove pornographic material, but lawsuits were possible, officials said.

"We thank the attorneys general for a thoughtful and constructive conversation on Internet safety," MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam said in a written statement. "This is an industrywide challenge, and we must all work together to create a safer Internet."

He said the agreement includes measures "to provide a safer online experience for teens, and we look forward to sharing our ongoing safety innovations with other companies."

"I think that it's a great thing," Exploris Middle School teacher Leah Perry said of Monday's announcement. "I think that it's about time that we kept up with the technology in the form of parenting and policing."

Perry, also the mother of a ninth-grader, said it will take much more than tougher laws and online restrictions to protect children, adding that parents staying in their children's business is also vital.

"When you're an adolescent is when you're more vulnerable," she said. You're not sure who you are."

"There are a lot of people pretending to be something they're not," Perry added. "These kids think they're invincible."


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  • imrickjamesbitch Jan 14, 2008

    So who are they going to charge when the child gets a new email his/her parents don't know about, and meet with an adult?
    Just like porno sites, they can put the disclaimer up there, but it's only a check box away to gain access, no matter what your age is.

  • daisy Jan 14, 2008

    I am glad Myspace has taken these steps. I like the network and have enjoyed keeping in touch with long distance friends this way. Kids are very savvy with computers and will figure out a way around this if they want to. Hopefully, if Myspace is proactive about cracking down the kids will get bored with trying to cheat the system. And the predators will crawl back under their rocks if they can't get through to little kid's pages.

  • GodBless Jan 14, 2008

    I recently signed up for a MySpace account so I could keep in touch with my nieces and nephew. One of my nieces says she is 16 - even though she just turned 14 yesterday. My 16 year old nephew has all kinds of stuff on his profile - including the fact that he has a rather large income. BTW - he has no job! His parents always gave him whatever he wanted! NOT GOOD!!! AND...I had a "friend request" from a 20 year old. When I went to her profile - you would not believe what was on there. Of course, I did not accept.

  • saltygirl2 Jan 14, 2008

    my niece told me she had an account. She is only 12. :(

  • mvnull Jan 14, 2008

    "Users of such sites as MySpace, Facebook et al. should also be careful of school snoops...." You expect us to take a Pope Center link seriously?

    It is true, though, that some college students have been busted for underage drinking & other violations. In addition, prospective employers check out students' Facebook pages & will reject applicants if they don't like what they see. Just assume that everyone in the world can see your Facebook/MySpace pages and you'll be OK.

  • TwoFer Jan 14, 2008

    Myspace, facebook and such are places where people go to tell their secrets, then they end up on youtube. Using parental controls on your pc may help a lot too.

  • jsanders Jan 14, 2008

    Users of such sites as MySpace, Facebook et al. should also be careful of school snoops looking on their pages to report them for "academic violations":

  • Myrrdin Jan 14, 2008

    One thing that a LOT of parents do not understand is that MySpace ASKS you if you are sure that you are 14 years old before allowing you to create an account. A LOT of 11 year olds (I teach 6th graders so I know) have MySpace accounts. What does that mean? It means they can easily lie and still get an account. So a perv talking to a 14 year old may actually be talking to an 11 year old.

    I have actually had parents get mad at me. I tell my students "Don't tell me if you have a MySpace page if you are less than 14 years old. I do not want to know that you are a liar." So parents get mad at ME for calling their kid a liar.

  • Myrrdin Jan 14, 2008

    I will give you a good example. I signed up as a 14 year old so I can monitor my child's behavior on MySpace. Some people will say "BAD DADDY!!" but I'd rather make sure my children are safe.

    When this announcement was made, I got 7 friend invitations within 30 minutes. Coincidence? I don't think so. People are trying to take advantage before the changes take effect.

  • ncsulilwolf Jan 14, 2008

    Coming from an active MySpace/facebook-er... these are not very restrictive measures, thus, any diligent kid (or predator) will figure out more ways around them.

    Not to mention, most kids over the age of 13 will be able to figure out how to get a free email address so "- Allow parents to submit children's e-mail addresses to MySpace to prevent anyone from misusing the addresses to set up profiles." does no good.